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This section will tell us more about the two common types of laboratory thermometers
mercury and alcohol thermometers.

Super Scientist

The Celsius scale is named after Swedish astronomer, Anders Celsius (1701-1744). Today,
the Celsius scale is commonly used.

Differences between a mercury and an alcohol thermometer.

Mercury thermometer:

It is used to measure temperatures up to 110C.

It cannot be used to measure low temperatures.
Its scale ranges from 0C to 110C.
Mercury in the bulb is toxic.
The liquid mercury is silver in colour.

Alcohol thermometer:

It is used to measure temperatures under 70C.

It cannot be used to measure high temperatures.
Its scale ranges from -10C to 78C.
Alcohol in the bulb is non-toxic.
Alcohol is colourless, so it is dyed red to allow readings to be taken easily.

Mercury thermometer

Alcohol thermometer
Safety Precaution!

Be careful when handling the mercury thermometer. Avoid contact with mercury if the bulb
breaks! Mercury is toxic and can enter the body through the skin.

Do you remember the last time you visited the doctor? The doctor would probably have used
a thermometer to measure your body temperature. It is known as a clinical thermometer.
This thermometer has a scale of 35C to 42C. Why do you think this is so?

There are two types of clinical thermometers glass and digital.

Two commonly used clinical thermometers

Quick Check

1. Define temperature
2. State the S.I. unit of temperature.
3. Compare the differences between the mercury and alcohol thermometer.
4. Identify two clinical thermometers used.

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1.7 Straight Line Graph

You should be able to:

Draw a straight line graph to show the relationship between two factors;
Interpret data from the graph.

When we conduct an experiment, we can use many types of graphs to present the data that we
collect. Most of them are straight lines. The purpose of a graph is to visually display
relationships, which may not be obvious from data tables. Below is an example of a straight
line graph plotted using the information from the table shown.

Interpreting data from a graph

The aim of this experiment was to find out how mass is related to volume. The mass of the
same type of plasticine was measured at different volumes.

Volume of plasticine (cm) Mass of plasticine (g)

10 50

20 100

30 150

40 200

Presenting results in the table

Graph of the relationship between mass and volume of plasticine

What do you get when you divide the value of the mass by the value of the volume taken at
any point on this graph? You get the density of this lump of plasticine. What is its value?

From the graph above, we can see that the mass of the plasticine increases as the volume of
the plasticine increases.

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Let us look at another example. The graph shows how the volume of water in a measuring
cylinder changes with the number of slotted weights added to it. How can we find out the
initial volume of water in the measuring cylinder?

Graph of the relationship between the volume of water and mass of slotted weights

By extending the line towards the y-axis (extrapolate), as shown, the initial volume of water
in the measuring cylinder can be obtained.
Extrapolate the line to the y-axis

Other types of graphs

The data that we gather from experiments does not always form a straight line graph. The
example below shows that some graphs can be curved.

Graph of a ball being dropped from a certain height

Graph of the speed of a car

Quick Check

The volume of water taken in by a plant over a few hours was plotted on a graph. What can
you say about the experiment by looking at the graph?

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1.8 Scientific Investigations

You should be able to:

Perform scientific experiments that involve four basic steps:

- Planning the experiment,
- Conducting the experiment,
- Processing the data using basic science process skills (observing, recording,
measuring, communicating), and
- Evaluating the experiment.
Perform a fair test i.e. changing only one variable at a time while keeping other
conditions the same during an experiment or investigations.

A scientific investigation can be used to solve a problem or find out new things. Scientific
investigations involve the use of the scientific method, which consists of a series of steps.

What are the steps of the scientific method?

1. Ask a question.
Use your five senses to make observations. This helps you to gather information and
generate scientific questions such as what, when, which, where, why or
Girl: We seem to need fewer paper towels than cloth towels to soak up the spill. I
wonder why.

2. Formulate a hypothesis.
Study the information gathered and make sense of it. Then, propose a theory or
hypothesis. A hypothesis is a good guess about the answer to your question.

Guy: I think its because paper towels absorb more water than cloth towels.

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3. Plan an experiment to test your hypothesis.

Develop your hypothesis into an experimental aim. Decide how you will carry out the
experiment. This includes deciding what apparatus and materials are needed, what
procedure to follow, what observations to make, what measurements to take and how
to do a fair test to prove the hypothesis. Write down your experimental plan. An
example is given below.

To investigate if paper towels absorb more water than cloth towels

Apparatus and materials needed:

Two paper towels, two cloth towels, a beaker, water, a funnel, a measuring cylinder, a

1. Place a piece of paper towel in a beaker of water for ten seconds.
2. Take the paper towel out of the beaker.
3. Place a funnel over a measuring cylinder.
4. Squeeze all the water out of the towel into the measuring cylinder.
5. Record the amount of water collected.
6. Repeat the experiment.
7. Repeat steps 1-6 using the cloth towels.

4. Conduct the experiment.

Follow your experimental procedure. Make the experiment a fair test by changing
only one factor or variable at a time while keeping the rest the same. Repeat your
experiment many times to ensure that the results are consistent.

Variables that we keep constant:

- Time towel is placed in beaker
- Size of towels
- Amount of water in beaker
- Thickness of towels

Variable that we change:

- Material of towel

Variable that we measure:

- Amount of water absorbed

Different variables in the experiment

Girl: We shall make sure the size of the towels, the amount of water in the beaker and
the time the towel is in the beaker is the same. This way, only the type of towel will
affect the experiment.

5. Process the data from your experiment.

Use the skills of observing and measuring to collect data. Record your data in a
suitable format, such as a table as shown on the right. Then, analyse your data and
conclude whether your hypothesis is true.

Type of towel Amount of water absorbed (cm)

Paper towel Test 1 57, Test 2 53, Average 55
Cloth towel Test 1 32, Test 2 38, Average 35
6. Evaluate your results.
Evaluate whether your experiment was fair.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Did anything go wrong in the experiment?
- What factors could have affected the experiment?
- What could be done to improve it?

Carry out the experiment again, if necessary.

7. Communicate your findings with the others.

Share your findings with others through a final report, poster or presentation.

Summary of Scientific Investigation

Ask a question Formulate a hypothesis Plan an experiment Conduct your experiment

Process the data from your experiment Evaluate your results Share your findings

Scientist often share their findings with their peers by publishing their experimental results in
scientific journals. Their theories may be challenged or used as the basis to form new

Science Smart

There are two types of data. Quantities that we measured are called quantitative data.
Observations that can only be described in words but not measured are called qualitative data.

A fair experiment is conducted when only one variable is changed in the experiment. Discuss
with your teacher and classmates if the above experiment is a fair one.

Quick Check
Draw a flow chart to show the scientific method.

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Introducing Science

- Knowledge of:
o Laboratory rules
o Hazard warning symbols
o Apparatus and equipment
- Accurate measurements
o Mass:
S.I. Unit = kilogram (kg)
Instruments used: Triple-beam balance, Electronic balance
o Area:
S.I. Unit = square metre (m)
Mathematical formula for regular shapes
Estimation with square grids for irregular figures
o Time:
S.I. Unit = second (s)
Instruments used: Stopwatch, Stop clock
o Volume:
S.I. Unit = cubic metre (m)
Instruments used:
Mathematical formulae for regular shapes
For irregular solids:
Measuring cylinder
Displacement can
o Length:
S.I. Unit = metre (m)
Instruments used: Ruler, Measuring tape, Internal and external callipers
o Density:
S.I. Unit = kg/cm

Density =

o Temperature:
S.I. Unit = kelvin (K)
Instruments used: mercury thermometer and alcohol thermometer
- Investigations
o Scientific Method
Ask a question
Formulate a hypothesis
Plan an experiment to test the hypothesis
Conduct the experiment
Process the data from the experiment
Evaluate the experiment
Communicate the findings to others